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Wednesday’s Wild Card matchup preview

Sep 28, 2011, 1:31 AM EDT

Boston Red Sox v New York Yankees Getty Images

161 games down. One to go. And we have ties for the Wild Card in both the American League and National League. Is this fun or what? OK, well for most of us, anyway.

Here’s what to look for in Wednesday’s matchups:

American League Wild Card

Boston – Jon Lester (15-9, 3.49 ERA)
Baltimore – Alfredo Simon (4-9, 4.85 ERA)

New York – TBA
Tampa Bay - David Price (12-13, 3.35 ERA)

The Red Sox (90-71) and Rays (90-71) remain tied for the AL Wild Card after both teams won Tuesday night.

Jon Lester will be starting on three days’ rest Wednesday for the third time in his career. He threw just 55 pitches in his last outing Saturday against the Yankees, when he was chased for a season-high eight runs over 2 2/3 innings. The southpaw has allowed four runs or more in each of his last three starts. Simon is coming off a solid start against the Tigers last week, allowing three runs over eight innings, but has a 6.52 ERA in five starts this month. He gave up three runs on eight hits and three walks over 4 2/3 innings in his only appearance against the Red Sox this season back on July 9.

The Rays are in pretty good shape Wednesday, even though it isn’t confirmed who they’ll be facing. Either way, the Yankees are expected to rely heavily on their bullpen, primarily with pitchers who will not be on the postseason roster. However, Yankees manager Joe Girardi is expected to have most of his regulars in the starting lineup, at least for a couple of innings. David Price is winless over his last five starts, but has a 3.03 ERA this month and a 2.86 ERA since the All-Star break. He is 1-1 with a 4.26 ERA and a 17/8 K/BB ratio in four starts against the Bombers this season.

If the Red Sox and Rays remain tied following Wednesday’s action, they will meet a one-game playoff Thursday at 4:07 p.m. ET at Tropicana Field. Nothing official yet, but the Rays would likely use Jeff Niemann or possibly Matt Moore while the Red Sox could go with either John Lackey or Tim Wakefield.

National League Wild Card

Philadelphia – Joe Blanton (1-2, 5.03 ERA)
Atlanta – Tim Hudson (16-10, 3.23 ERA)

St. Louis – Chris Carpenter (10-9, 3.59 ERA)
Houston –  Brett Myers (7-13, 4.31 ERA)

The Braves (89-72) and Cardinals (89-72) are now in a flat-footed tie for the Wild Card after Atlanta lost Tuesday night and St. Louis beat up on the Astros.

After starting the final game of the regular season to help secure the Wild Card last year, Tim Hudson will attempt to do it again Wednesday. He allowed three runs over 5 2/3 innings in his last start Friday against the Nationals before leaving due to a cramp near his neck. The veteran right-hander is 1-1 with a 3.48 ERA in three starts against the Phillies this season. Joe Blanton, who is currently auditioning for a spot in the bullpen for the postseason, is making his first start since May 14. However, he is only expected to go a couple of innings. While this sounds like advantage Braves, Cole Hamels and Vance Worley could also see some work Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals will turn to their de facto ace Chris Carpenter with the season on the line. The veteran right-hander has been excellent recently, posting a 1.45 ERA and 21/6 K/BB ratio over his last four starts. He took a no-decision in his lone start against the Astros this season back on July 27, allowing two runs over seven innings. Brett Myers has been equally brilliant lately, allowing exactly one earned run in each of his last five starts dating back to late-August. He has a 5.14 ERA in two starts against the Cardinals this season. One significant development to watch is that Matt Holliday won’t start after aggravating an injury to his right hand, though his replacement Allen Craig did homer and drive in four runs in Tuesday’s victory.

If the Braves and Cardinals remain tied following Wednesday’s action, they will meet in a one-game playoff Thursday at 8:07 p.m. ET at Busch Stadium. The Braves would use Brandon Beachy while the Cardinals would counter with Kyle Lohse.

  1. mornelithe - Sep 28, 2011 at 2:23 AM

    Well, no offense, but I think the Red Sox have already collapsed, the real question is do they have enough energy to pick themselves back up, and then…do will they have anything to contribute to the post-season other than an easy victory for the opposition. Hopefully so, but I’m not holding my breath.

  2. rabidmike - Sep 28, 2011 at 3:09 AM

    Um, I notice real lack of DBacks stories on this site. I believe they won the NL West. A worst to first thing. And they had a walkoff Grand Slam tonight, I hear the kids like those.

    • cktai - Sep 28, 2011 at 3:48 AM

      http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2011/09/24/diamondbacks-beat-giants-clinch-national-league-west/

    • davidly - Sep 28, 2011 at 4:02 AM

      Might I recommend an Arizona newspaper? This is a story about the wild card race coming down to the last day.

  3. steveohho - Sep 28, 2011 at 6:43 AM

    Boston – Jon Lester

    Pronounced in Bean town as “Jon Lesta”

  4. Tribe&Browns&Cavs - Sep 28, 2011 at 7:13 AM

    Whomever the Yankees put on the mound I’m assuming they’ll have him throw underhanded.

    • stlouis1baseball - Sep 28, 2011 at 10:55 AM

      Hahaha! Outstanding post. Sad…but dead on.

  5. muffinb - Sep 28, 2011 at 11:20 AM

    It looks to me like the Phils are just giving Atlanta this game. They are pitching a nobody. The Cards are going to have to earn thing one, and then hope they can beat the Braves in St. Louis.

    • foreverchipper10 - Sep 28, 2011 at 11:56 AM

      Pitching a nobody to be followed by Worley and Hamels out of the pen. This is not a gimme by any standards.

    • stlouis1baseball - Sep 28, 2011 at 1:01 PM

      Yeah…the Phillies are throwing a bullpen session tonight (against Hudson no less).
      The Cardinals are going to have to consistently put up crooked numbers and hope that is enough to at least force another game tomorrow in St. Louis.

  6. The Baseball Idiot - Sep 28, 2011 at 11:41 AM

    I really hope the Red Sox make the playoffs. I really don’t want to have to listen to that ‘curse’ crap start all over again.

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